“Where did the dinghy go?”

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Gorgona Magic

Posted on Monday Nov 24, 2008

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So far we've seen two animals that only exist on this island: a frog that walks and a lizard that is bright blue. We've had a large whale shark feeding around our boat with its pup in circles at night. We had a great hike around the island and we've topped up our water tanks from the islands run off.

We're waiting for a good weather window to head further north, but it is going to be hard to leave such a beautiful place. I'd write more, but the whale shark is back.

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Isla Gorgona vaya!

Wow. This little tropical island is an undiscovered paradise with fresh water streams, dense jungles, and crystal clear water. We can't stop pinching ourselves, and not because we like pain, but because it's hard to believe how cool this place is. Everyone has been really friendly (as all the Colombians have been so far) and we are going to take a guided hike through the island tomorrow to see the animals.

In fact to give you an idea of just how cool this place is, when we came in to pickup the buoy, a pod of dolphins circled our boat and a huge 3 foot diameter turtle swam by. And something that is even more exciting is everyone who works here says the next place we plan to visit is even more incredible.

Anyway, if you have the means and you arrive here by boat, you have to pick up a buoy to help protect the coral from sailors and their anchors, but they charge a fair price of 10,000 pesos ($5).

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Tumaco and our blog

Posted on Thursday Nov 13, 2008

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I know that map isn't working right now. Apparently Google changed something in their API and I need to go in and reprogram it when I get to an internet cafe. It's too bad to because we're in a pretty interesting place.

We are about 10 miles behind an island estuary anchored off the military base. We went into the large town of Tumaco yesterday and everyone was really friendly. The town reminds me a bit of some of the places we've been to in the Philippines -- a bit lawless.

We're still catching up on our sleep! And we also moved outside of the channel after scouting out a good spot to anchor. They get so few private boats (they could only remember 2 boats coming here before) that they don't know quite what to do with us. So we're anchored on the outside of Green buoy 17 with an even better view of the jungle and beaches. It's very nice here.

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In Colombia

After a bumpy sail north we sailed into a different world. Tumaco, Colombia is a jungle estuary with lots of birds and plants. The people look very different from Ecuador and Peru. They have an African decent and they have all been very friendly and helpful.

We did have to use an agent to check in, which is the first time I've used someone to facilitate our entry/exit paperwork. It was a bit spendy, but not much more than Ecuador where we had no help and had to travel two hours to complete the process. Here we did everything right at the military dock.

And speaking of military, they are everywhere here. They even were tracking us on approach and called out our position and requested we identify ourselves and what our intentions were. Pretty impressive. We feel really safe here and the anchoring spot we are in is really calm. There is a bit of a discussion about where we should anchor because they aren't really setup for visiting yachts. We are trying to work out a deal with them so we won't have to move because this spot is pretty nice.

We're looking forward to several days of rest, relaxation and exploration.

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A nice 20 mile sail from the nice anchorage at Punta Ballena brought us to a rough and tumble spot called Pedernales. It's not the place that's rough, but the water. It isn't a very good spot to anchor with the swell sweeping right into the bay and the wind blows hard off the cliffs. The breeze is dying down now, but it's probably going to be a sleepless night. Our next spot is a bit of a haul tomorrow, so we're going to leave before sunrise anyway.

We sailed across the equator today. It's nice to be back on the other side of the world.

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Punta Ballena Ecuador

Finally free of Caraquez and out on the clear water. We sailed with Nakia up the coast with a good current push behind us for about 40 miles to Bahia Ballena. Apparently whales migrate through here, but our timing is a bit off for them. We did have a turtle swimming around our boat for the past two days, though.

This bay is pretty protected from the swell and the southerly winds. It's an active fishing village near the town of Jama. We're going to go in an do a quick tour of the town and see the beach a little. I think tomorrow we might head further up the coast, somewhere.

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Underway again

Posted on Monday Nov 3, 2008

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Finally we are setting sail again! Time for remote places, clean waters and nice beaches in Colombia and Panama.

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Costa Rica Guidebook Is Done!

Posted on Saturday Oct 11, 2008

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After 10 months of work, we finished it. And you my friend can now buy your own copy of Explore Central America Part 2 which covers Costa Rica and part of Western Panama. To make the job even bigger, I added a database that is integrated with Paypal to process orders and it also handles providing the update copies. It seemed like an endless task that would never be complete. But after about 165 pages of writing and lots of programming, the book and website are done!

These books are basically done as a hobby. There's no way in this small market to actually make money off them. In fact after 1 year of the first book, I could have made the same money working for about 10 days in the US. So checkout our labor of love and see what you think.


Iron Pig Lives and Ecuador Gets a new constitution

Posted on Monday Sep 29, 2008

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Apparently the Iron Pig is the only undamaged boat in my dad's marina. He said there were some scratches where other boats had slammed into his (and probably sunk). That makes the Pig 2 for 0 in hurricanes.

Yesterday Ecuador voted. They voted on a new constitution that has a lot of built in surprises. I guess Ecuador needs something to spend their oil money on and the president wants more power. So throw some money at the poor (about 38% of Ecuador) and then extend your term limits at the same time and BINGO. The social programs are quite aggressive, including free schooling to college! Pretty interesting stuff. Hopefully they can do something about the corruption here which is incredibly bad. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1102ap_lt_ecuador_referendum.html?source=mypi

We are currently getting the boat put back together and hope to leave Ecuador shortly after Sherrell's birthday around the end of October.

What happened to the Iron Pig?

Posted on Wednesday Sep 17, 2008

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While we've been busy working on the boat, someone mentioned that a large hurricane hit Galveston, Texas. That happens to be right where my dad's boat is moored, and Galveston is only a dozen or so feet above sea level.

Then I was hit with the photo from the front page on the cnn website of his marina.

Not so nice is it? While I can't see the Iron Pig (my brother's nickname for his mastless steel sailboat) I'm worried that it didn't fair too well. I did hear through my sister that he and his family are doing ok but they don't have any power or phone lines yet. I'm sure he's going to have some good stories when he can finally contact the outside world.